Waste Connections recycling specialists, were out in the Burton-Evergreen neighborhood in east Vancouver, WA on Thursday morning during the first week of a yearlong program to check for items that don’t belong in recycling carts. They were on the lookout for overzealous recycling, or what Waste Connections calls “wishful recycling.” The customer’s intentions are good, but the results are not.
It’s still early in the program, but Jerin Dinkins estimated that up to 90 percent of the carts have had some type of “contamination.” These items take time and money to remove from the recycling stream, and end up in the landfill with other garbage.
Josy Wright, recycle manager for Waste Connections, said recyclables become her company’s property when customers roll their carts to the curb. The recycling specialists do not dig through the carts, primarily for safety reasons, she said.
During the program’s first few days, Dinkins and Evans have found lots of run-of-the-mill contamination. The top five have been plastic bags, produce and takeout clamshells, freezer boxes, plastic foam and lids from food containers. The recycling rules can be difficult to stay up with — and counterintuitive.